Panel on Extraterrestrial Life

Panel on Extraterrestrial Life was a committee established in 1958 by the Space Science Board to recommend approaches to the study of extraterrestrial life and, in particular, issues related to the problem of contamination. It consisted of two, geographically distinct panels, EASTEX and WESTEX. For about two years, it ran in parallel with Panel 2 on Extraterrestrial Life but then took over the activities of the latter.



EASTEX, was the East coast group of the Panel on Extraterrestrial Life, chaired by Salvador Luria, and also including Bruce Billings, Dean Cowie, Richard Davies, George Derbyshire, Paul Doty, Herbert Freeman, Thomas Gold, H. Keffer Hartline, Martin Kamen, Cyris Levinthal, Stanley Miller, E. F. Mac Nichol, Bruno Rossi, W. R. Sistron, John W. Townsend, Wolf Vishniac, Fred Whipple, and Richard S. Young. It held its first meeting Dec 19–20, 1958 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and produced a final report circulated as SSB (Space Science Board)–93. EASTEX was merged with WESTEX into Committee 14 on Exobiology in Aug 1960.



WESTEX was the West coast group of the Panel on Extraterrestrial Life, chaired by Joshua Lederberg, and also including Melvin Calvin, Richard Davies, Norman Horowitz, A. G. Marr, Daniel Mazia, Aaron Novick, Carl Sagan, William Sinton, Roger Stanier, Gunther Stent, C. S. van Niel, and Harold F. Weaver. It held its first meeting on Feb 21, 1958 and produced the "WESTEX Summary Report." WESTEX was merged with EASTEX into Committee 14 on Exobiology in August 1960.


Panel 2 on Extraterrestrial Life

Panel 2 on Extraterrestrial Life was the second of the two groups set up in the late 1950s to study problems related to life beyond Earth. Panel 2 operated under the auspices of the Joint Armed Forces-National Research Council Committee on Bio-Astronautics and was chaired by Melvin Calvin. Its eight member scientists, including Carl Sagan, Henry Linschitz, Richard E. Lord, Matthew Messelson, Malcolm Ross, Wolf Vishniac, and Harold F. Weaver, who were interested primarily in extraterrestrial life, the origin of life, and SETI, had to contend with other colleagues and military officers who were more concerned with the effects of space travel on human beings (see space medicine). Panel 2 was dissolved in Aug 1960 so that the National Academy of Sciences would have a single representative in this field, the Space Science Board. The activities of Panel 2 were taken over by Committee 14 on Exobiology on Aug 12, 1960.


Committee 14 on Exobiology

Committee 14 on Exobiology was the result of the merger, in August 1960, between the East and West coast groups (EASTEX and WESTEX) of the Space Science Board's Panel on Extraterrestrial Life. At the same time as this merger, Panel 2 on Extraterrestrial Life was dissolved to allow the Space Science Board to be the sole representative in bioastronautics for the National Academy of Sciences. Committee 14 was chaired by Joshua Lederberg.